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Wachovia's quarterly profit up 23 percent

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/ Source: Reuters

Wachovia Corp., the No. 5 U.S. bank, on Thursday said fourth-quarter profit rose 23 percent, helped by growth in consumer loans and deposits.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based company said net income rose to $1.1 billion, or 83 cents per share, from $891 million, or 66 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding merger and restructuring charges and the effects of accounting changes, Wachovia said it earned 88 cents per share, compared with 72 cents a year earlier. On that basis, profit matched the average forecast of analysts polled by Reuters Research, a unit of Reuters Group Plc.

Revenue on a taxable equivalent basis rose 23 percent to $5.53 billion.

Separately, Wachovia raised its quarterly dividend 14 percent to 40 cents per share, its second increase in six months, and authorized the buyback of up to an additional 60 million common shares.

For all of 2003, Wachovia reported net income of $4.3 billion, up 20 percent from 2002.

Wachovia shares closed Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange at $47.30. The stock has risen 23 percent in the last year, compared with a 14 percent rise in the Standard & Poor's banks index.